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October 8, 2013

Book Notes - George Pelecanos "The Double"

The Double

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

George Pelecanos's followup to The Cut is The Double, yet another impressive work combining classic noir with modern twists from one of our finest crime novelists.

Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:

"With respect for D.C.'s past on one side, and a vibrant, youthful new protagonist looking squarely into the future, this is the start of a remarkable series. Longtime Pelecanos diehards will be more than satisfied, and new readers will find themselves jonesing for more."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.


In his own words, here is George Pelecanos's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, The Double:

Time for the "soundtrack" to my new novel. All of the following cuts or records are heard or discussed somewhere in the narrative. Here, then, is the playlist for The Double.

"Back Street Girl," by The Rolling Stones
This track is part of a dialogue between lawyer Tom Petersen and Spero Lucas, which leads to a discussion of the album's cover photo and a Stones vs. Beatles debate. "Back Street Girl" appeared only on the UK release of Between the Buttons, which included the lovely "She Smiled Sweetly" as well. Get it.

LKJ in Dub
I owned many albums by UK reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. His dub record, made with the Dennis Bovell band, might be his best. The horns are stellar.

The Big Gundown, Ennio Morricone (soundtrack)
Or, as it was known in Italy, La Resa Dei Conti. Spero Lucas's father, Van Lucas, was a spaghetti western fan, and Sergio Solima's epic from 1966 was at the top of his list. Mine, too. I put this up with Giu' La Testa (Duck, You Sucker) as one of Morricone's finest scores.

Arkology, by Lee Scratch Perry
This is the big boxed set, 52 tracks from the legendary producer and dub pioneer. Spark one up.

Soon Forward, by Gregory Isaacs
Lucas and his girlfriend, Charlotte Rivers, are into reggae and dub when they make love. This record, by the late Gregory Isaacs, is a nice example of how the Cool Ruler made the bedroom rock. Produced by Sly Dunbar, engineered by Sylvan Morris. Crucial.

"I Want You to Know," by Jim Lauderdale
This Lauderdale cover of a Johnny Paycheck song is playing in a Southern Maryland bar as Billy King strikes up a conversation with a mark named Lois. From the extraordinary Paycheck tribute record, Touch My Heart, featuring pedal steel by Lloyd Green.

Pick-A-Dub, Keith Hudson
Is this, as it is claimed by many, to be the greatest dub record ever made? I'd put it on the high shelf with King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown, for sure. Keith Hudson did have the ammunition: Aston and Carlton Barrett, Earl "China" Smith, Augustus Pablo, Horace Andy and others came together to create this landmark work. When Lucas puts this one on the box, his brother Leo knows the weed has been lit. Mind expanding.

"Heir Apparent," Opeth
Reluctant gang member and ex-con Louis Smalls listen to progressive metal (Mastodon, Meshuggah) on his ear buds as the conflict rages around him. This song, from Opeth, is a nice representative track of the genre.

"Pray for Me," Anthony Hamilton
Spero and Leo talk about this song over beers as it plays form the juke in a bar on Georgia Avenue. I try not to inject my personal music preferences into my novels, preferring to let the characters listen to what they want to, based on who they are. But here I gave a nod to Anthony Hamilton, my favorite R&B artist on the scene today. Anthony brings the spiritual and the secular together like no one since the Reverend Al. From the standout album, Back to Love.

"I Don't Want to Go There," by Dinosaur Jr.
"Most People are DJs," by The Hold Steady

What to play in your car when you're ripped and driving across town to spy on your married lover. By "you" I mean Spero Lucas.

"Fire Lake," by Bob Seger.
"Who's gonna play those eights and aces?" The subject of another classic rock discussion by Petersen, who calls Bob "the authentic working man's Springsteen." I like the way "eights and aces" scans, the barrelhouse arrangement, and the mysterious imagery of this song. "You remember Uncle Joe/He was the one afraid to cut the cake."

"Whiskey in the Jar," traditional
"And some men like to hear a cannonball a roarin'." The Spero Lucas character, summed up in one line. Among many others (including The Dubliners, Burl Ives, and The Grateful Dead), this song was covered by Metallica on Garage, but the Thin Lizzy version is timeless and the one to own.

Below the Bassline, by Ernest Ranglin
Elegant, classic, jazz-reggae fusion record from a master whose roots go back to the first ska wave. Highly recommended.


George Pelecanos and The Double links:

the author's Wikipedia entry
video trailer for the book

Booklist review
Kirkus review
New York Times review
Toronto Star review
USA Today review
Wall Street Journal review

The Daily Beast interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Cut
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for Drama City
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for What It Was
Mulholland Books intervi9ew with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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